Archives By-Fellow’s report: Dr Josh McMullan
I am grateful to Churchill College, Cambridge for appointing me as Archival By-Fellow for the period October – December 2021, and for allowing me to pursue my academic interests alongside my developing career as a civil servant. I am also extremely grateful to have been awarded the John Antcliffe Memorial Fund for my research project concerned with the public relations strategy of the UK nuclear industry in the 1970s and 1980s.
The majority of my time was spent studying the papers of Sir John Hill and Lord Walter Marshall. Although these names are familiar to those within the nuclear industry as pioneers and advocates of it, they along with the public relations strategy of the nuclear industry have received little scholarly attention. It was therefore a rewarding experience to read through documents related to their time spent advising the government of the day including Margaret Thatcher during her first government.
The Churchill Archive Centre provided the ideal location for this research. Not only did I have access to a first-class library, the immense knowledge of Andrew Riley (Senior Archivist) and the warm hospitality of Allen Packwood (Archives Director), but at the Churchill Archive Centre Hill’s and Marshall’s papers could be set alongside the papers of several other prominent figures, most notably Thatcher herself. This allowed these papers to be set in a context, enabling an assessment of the extent of these senior technocrats’ political influence, Thatcher’s relationship with them, and Thatcher’s approach to nuclear power. Being based in College also offered me the opportunity to meet other Fellows.
The By-Fellowship has provided me with the opportunity to explore some of the finer points of my doctoral thesis, a wonderfully stimulating experience, new friendships, and potentially the basis for future publications on the nuclear industry. I look forward to continuing my relationship with the archives and its wonderful staff.
Dr Josh McMullan